What is needed to reuse medical devices and medicines? How do we prevent drug residues from entering sewage? Such questions are addressed in the Circular Safe Hospitals hub.
The Dutch healthcare sector is responsible for 13% of the national footprint of material extraction and for 7% of the national emissions. As such, it is a major contributor to climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution of water, air, and land which, controversially, all negatively impact human health and wellbeing. Also, the current dependency of health care on (critical) raw materials and complex and increasingly vulnerable supply chains is an increasing risk to the continuation of daily operations.
Green Deal Sustainable Healthcare 3.0
The Green Deal Sustainable Healthcare 3.0, signed in November 2022 by the national government and relevant parties in the health care sector, contains about 50 ambitions which aim to reduce to overall environmental impact of the health care sector and make it sustainable for the future. The overall goal of CSH is to make relevant and meaningful contributions in reaching a selection of these goals. CSH aims to become an (inter)nationally recognized and leading collaboration in accelerating the transition to circular hospitals in 2050.
Four Lines of research
Research within the Circular Hospitals theme aligns with the Green Deal and has four lines:
- Circular alternatives for medical disposables – Hospitals need to move away from their “take-make-waste” culture with regards to medical single-use products. The transition to circular hospitals requires the development, validation, and implementation of safe circular alternatives for such medical disposables. We focus specifically on the OR (Operating Room) and ICU (Intensive Care Unit).
- Medication without harm – preventing waste and pollution – As we cannot imagine health care without medicines, this research line aims to develop safe strategies and scalable solutions to lower the environmental impact of medication.
- Circular strategies for medical devices & procedures – Medical devices and procedures are optimized to deliver high quality healthcare. However, the production of those devices and/or their use in clinical procedures often require substantial resources (energy, water, fossil plastics, (rare) metals, etc.) which negatively impact our ecological environment. In this research line we investigate the ecological impact of medical devices and procedures, design circular safe strategies (rethink, refuse, reuse, refurbish, recycle) and validate those in clinical practice.
- Future-proof patient diets: balancing nutrition and circularity – An important aspect for the transition towards a Circular Society is the need to provide nutritious food that is both healthy and environmentally sustainable. We investigate options for nutritious food with a minimal ecological footprint from farm to fork.
The following projects have been funded though our seed money programme:
- Disposable medical products used in the OR at UMC Utrecht: defining barriers and circular strategies
- Circular business models for cataract surgery
- Medicines are there to be used, not thrown away
- Mapping opportunities to reduce micropollutant discharge from human and veterinary hospitals
- Diets in Dutch hospitals: setting the scene for healthy, planet-proof, affordable, and circular diets
Interested in Collaboration?
Engagement with public and private stakeholders ensures dissemination of evidence-based practices and support for policies that promote circular solutions. Are you a student or researcher at Eindhoven University of Technology, Wageningen University & Research, Utrecht University and University Medical Centre Utrecht, and would you like to join our research within the Circular Hospitals theme? Or do you have an idea for a new project? Get in touch with us.